Why set the participation limit at 60 followers, but defining questions at 40 questions with 10 upvotes or more?

Even if all 60 followers were unanimous on what questions should be upvoted, with 5 votes each, they could only get at most 30 questions with exactly 10 votes. Given that

  • followers are not unanimous on what questions are best,
  • not all followers will use their 5 upvotes,
  • some questions should ideally receive more than the required 10 votes,
  • to vote on most proposals, you have to be expert enough to have an interest in participating in the site, if it ever makes it,

the required number of 60 followers seems to be misleading.

At an average of 3-4 votes per interested Area51 user and the forty questions being ideally something like

  • 5x 20 votes,
  • 15x 15 votes,
  • 20x 10 votes,
  • and possibly including 10 downvotes,

the number of interested users needs to be 130-180 users. With the current requirement of 60 followers, only 35-50% should be interested enough to click the "Follow It!" button.

Is this a psychological technique into tricking users into thinking that "at 50 followers we're almost half-way" (half-way as in fulfilling one of the two criteria for proceeding to the next stage)?

Is this a hurdle to help a site succeed at a later stage, because a proposal can only move to the next stage if there are enough passionate users that involve themselves in upvoting and posting questions, even though the proposal looks like it's going to launch without their help?

I would think that 75-80% of Area51 users voting on a particular proposal would be interested enough to participate in the site when or if it launches. That'd be 100-140 users, following a proposal, with 20% of the relevant upvotes still coming from passersby.

Why not set the limit at 100 users?

Update. I took 15 mins. of my time and did some number crunching: The average number of followers at the end of the definition phase of all the successful sites on Area51 is 158 followers. There's no reason for a site to need above-average followers to be successful, but, that said, almost all sites had more than 100 followers at the end of definition phase (all but SharePoint at 89, but it looks like this site was an exception for other reasons).

  • 1
    You don't have to be a follower to vote.
    – dwjohnston
    Commented May 10, 2014 at 2:29

1 Answer 1


There are two axes Area 51 is designed to measure: (1) if there is a coherent and interesting subject to built a site around, and (2) if there are enough people willing to build that site. They are not necessarily the same thing. There may be a strong correlation, but plenty of people post example questions without necessarily "following" the proposal. It is not required.

In any case, the numbers listed have evolved over time as we learned more about how participation is need to build a successful site. Some of those numbers are easier to hit than others, but it is the process as a whole that keeps poor ideas from taking too much attention away from the more-viable ideas as they make their way through the latter parts of the process.

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